New Delhi, June 28: A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed four days' custody of Alt news co-founder Mohammed Zubair to Delhi police in connection with one of his 2018 tweets on the micro-blogging platform Twitter, in which he allegedly hurt the religious sentiments of a community.
Zubair, 33, was produced by the Delhi police before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria at Patiala House Courts. The police had registered a case against him after getting a complaint from a Twitter handle, where it was alleged that he had tweeted a questionable image with the purpose of deliberately hurting religious sentiments. Muhammad Zubair Arrested: Editors Guild of India Condemns AltNews Co-Founder's Arrest, Terms 'Extremely Disturbing'
Zubair was charged with Indian Penal Code sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) for one of his objectionable tweets.
Before the court, Delhi Police argued for five-day custody of the accused fact-checker. "Transmission and publication of such posts have been deliberately done by Mohammed Zubair through electronic media to insult the religious feelings of a particular community with the intent to provoke breach of peace," read the FIR.
After his arrest, the police said that he was not cooperating with the investigation. "We had served him a notice under section 41A of the CrPc, but he was evasive and not cooperating in the investigation," as per the officials. Zubair was "evasive on the questions" and neither provided the necessary technical equipment for the purpose of the investigation nor cooperated in the investigation, the police said.
As per the FIR, accused Zubair had used a screengrab of an old Hindi movie which showed an image of a hotel, with its board reading 'Hanuman hotel' instead of 'Honeymoon hotel'. In his tweet, Zubair had written, "BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel".
The complainant tagging Delhi Police had written, "Linking our God Hanuman Ji with Honeymoon is a direct insult of Hindus because he is a brahmachari. Kindly take action against this."
During the course of the hearing, Senior Advocate Vrinda Grover appeared for Zubair and said that the contentious image comes from Hindi cinema and has been shared by many others. Grover also sought permission to play the scene in the courtroom. "May I play the scene so that there is no question in the minds of the court? Not only am I opposing remand but I will also be seeking bail thereafter," she pleaded.
Grover argued at length saying it is a professional duty of a journalist to speak truth to power and he is being targeted, alleging the police was 'abusing power.' Stating that it's a tweet in 2018, Grover argued that the client's laptop has nothing to do with the case as it is a storehouse of 'sensitive information' and expressed 'phishing' apprehensions.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 28, 2022 06:50 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).